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Apple reportedly in talks with major healthcare providers over HealthKit partnerships

post #1 of 21
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Ahead of Apple's iOS 8 rollout this fall, a report on Tuesday revealed the company has been in talks with major healthcare providers and medical records systems firms over the HealthKit framework, which will serve as a central hub for users' personal health data.



According to Reuters, who spoke with people familiar with Apple's plans for HealthKit, the tech giant has held talks about the upcoming service with various companies, including Mount Sinai, the Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins and medical records providers Allscripts and Epic Systems.

Apple has already revealed HealthKit to be a framework available to third-parties for storage and aggregation of data, which will subsequently be available to the user via a corresponding app called Health. The hope is that HealthKit can serve as a central hub for information gathered by third-party medical apps and hardware.

Apple is already known to be working with the Mayo Clinic, Nike and Epic, though it appears other industry players are eager to tie in their services with the iOS-based platform as well.

With the partnerships comes responsibility to keep highly sensitive medical records and data private, though Apple is trying to steer clear of regulatory hold ups, sources said.

Apple's developer relations branch, for example, is reportedly working with app makers like iHealth Labs, the developer of specialized activity trackers and fitness-related apps. According to iHealth's chief marketing officer Jim Taschetta, consumer privacy issues are paramount to the HealthKit initiative. He offers the example of a toggle that allows users to choose if they want third-party apps or healthcare providers to share sensitive data with HealthKit.

Fleshing out the technical side of HealthKit, an Apple employee said the company is planning to incorporate iCloud for data storage. The person told Reuters that data transfer and storage to Apple's servers will be fully encrypted. Further, HealthKit's backend will be designed in such a way that providers will be responsible for patient privacy, not Apple.

Finally, to help bring HealthKit to market, Apple has consulted with or hired health experts and legal professionals to navigate the stringent data privacy and regulatory policies outlined by government agencies. In June, the Food and Drug Administration disclosed it had discussed "mobile medical applications" with Apple over the course of multiple meetings, though details regarding the upcoming rollout were not made public.

"Apple will work closely with the FDA as they develop future products," the FDA said at the time, adding, "The earlier FDA is involved and advising, the less likely that Apple would be caught by surprise later when they wish to release a new product, if that product must be regulated."

Earlier this year, it was reported that Apple executives were meeting with the FDA over similar matters. With its robust data sharing and collection capabilities, HealthKit is moving into uncharted waters for a massively distributed consumer solution. As such, the rollout may face complications with existing privacy laws, but Apple is apparently working hard to prevent such scenarios.
post #2 of 21
No shit they have consulted with the FA about data privacy. Without that you'd have to be insane to share very sensative medical information.
It is going to very interesting to see how this grows and expands in the future
post #3 of 21
I would definitely use Health kit - providing I can use it in the way I want to ie for monitoring. I am not willing to share any of my data whatsoever.

I can understand that others might want to be more liberal in certain situations tho - like in a sports/team training environment where program and target monitoring might be required.

As singularity said, very interesting to see where this all leads. Med is huge.
post #4 of 21
It seems this will be US exclusive for the time being. And rolling such services out to Europe eg might take some time.
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post #5 of 21
I wonder, is it actually Apple's intention to aggregate all of your medical details, kind of like Microsoft's Healthvault works? Or is does it only have the intention of aggregating the collected information from sensors without all other medical data?
post #6 of 21
HealthKit and the Health app are going to be change the health care industry profoundly.
It's not just an application for a specific branch of medicine.
post #7 of 21
This does all very USA-centric. As 'wonkothesane', comments above. I hope it isn't too long before Europe and the rest of the world gets the benefit. I have been using, at my specialist's request, a sleep app on my mobile phone, to (obviously), measure my sleep patterns. It would be great to have a device that does all the other stuff, like heart checks and the regular, laborious blood tests I have to have at a clinic every four weeks.
post #8 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by WonkoTheSane View Post

It seems this will be US exclusive for the time being. And rolling such services out to Europe eg might take some time.

I would suspect most European countries to be much quicker than the US healthcare system to adjust ;-)
post #9 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by RobM View Post

I would definitely use Health kit - providing I can use it in the way I want to ie for monitoring. I am not willing to share any of my data whatsoever.

 

yeah but you are healthy at the moment.  develop something severe and you will want to get your doctor as much data as necessary.  Cancer patients have complex regiments of pills and nasty side-effects.  Gathering data and pain indicators (when you voluntarily inform the app how much discomfort you feel at the moment) could allow a patient to be at home more.

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post #10 of 21
I'm thinking of the more mundane record keeping for a moment here. There are trials currently under way for an open access to medical records by allowing the public to access portals into the new digital databases. From what I have read, this project is already getting tested on disparate systems. I would hope the Apple IBM partnership could gain some serious traction here and iOS on the front end, perhaps with some IBM help, could become the default medical system.
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post #11 of 21

Very much love the idea of HealthKit.  I REALLY hope Apple gets this right (and I think they will) - it will revolutionize healthcare.

post #12 of 21

We just got access to our local hospital's portal (licensed from Medical Information Technology. whoever they are). It lists our visits, medications, and some test results. Our PCP is also moving to electronic records but he still wants some limitations on what is posted and what the doctor tells the patient first (don't want to find out you might have cancer over the internet). The hospital hasn't incorporated x-rays, MRIs, or CT scans yet but hopefully those will come. As far as the Health app monitoring my current health (BP, heart rate, etc.), I'm not as worried about that as I am about having my full health record with me in a form available for any emergency situation. I'm also tired of re-filling out my family history every time the doctor's office or hospital changes their system. I am cautious, however, about having all my family history available in a system where someone could put together DNA results of all my linked family members for purposes beyond my health. Finding your own ancestry is one thing, determining where your ancestors came from and whether they are acceptable (brings back things my ancestors had to prove during WWII) is something totally different.

post #13 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chipsy View Post

I wonder, is it actually Apple's intention to aggregate all of your medical details, kind of like Microsoft's Healthvault works? Or is does it only have the intention of aggregating the collected information from sensors without all other medical data?

No.

 

The strategy here is obvious.

 

Apple is providing a software backend solution to the healthcare industry that will encourage them to buy iOS devices to leverage HealthKit across the entire hospital network, public/private clinics, doctors offices, etc..

post #14 of 21
Apple should also partner with insurance companies. This is all about data and insurance companies have a lot of it. The insurance company I work for supports 25 petabytes of data and processes over 900 million claims annually.
post #15 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleSauce007 View Post

HealthKit and the Health app are going to be change the health care industry profoundly.
It's not just an application for a specific branch of medicine.

I agree. This is potentially huge. It is a $2,800B in revenue industry -- 18% of GDP -- in the US alone.

post #16 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by singularity View Post

No shit they have consulted with the FA about data privacy. Without that you'd have to be insane to share very sensative medical information.
It is going to very interesting to see how this grows and expands in the future


The "FDA" has nothing to do with medical privacy as the law now stands. MIPSA and HIPAA are under the Department of Health and Human Services. It's up to the providers to maintain the privacy and get the consent of the patient and/or caregiver by providing them a copy of their policies in written or electronic form.

 

The FDA becomes involved when a medical device is involved that would provided testing that would result in a medical decision. An example would be a glucose tester. The result would tell the patient if they needed more or less insulin for example. The accuracy of such a device could cause a life threatening situation. The FDA might be interested in software that accumulates other data and prompts the user that they are in a life threatening situation and should seek medical care.

 

The FDA doesn't have any authority to enforce medical privacy (HIPAA) and the accumulation and sharing of the information between different electronic systems (MIPSA).

post #17 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post

Apple should also partner with insurance companies. This is all about data and insurance companies have a lot of it. The insurance company I work for supports 25 petabytes of data and processes over 900 million claims annually.

It's doubtful that insurance companies will open up their systems at all. I am covered by a major insurance company and they don't even have a dedicated app that I can access my account. I can access the account via mobile browser but the data is severely crippled and I need to use my laptop to get full access. They are very protective of the information they have.

post #18 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by mnbob1 View Post
 


The "FDA" has nothing to do with medical privacy as the law now stands. MIPSA and HIPAA are under the Department of Health and Human Services. It's up to the providers to maintain the privacy and get the consent of the patient and/or caregiver by providing them a copy of their policies in written or electronic form.

 

The FDA becomes involved when a medical device is involved that would provided testing that would result in a medical decision. An example would be a glucose tester. The result would tell the patient if they needed more or less insulin for example. The accuracy of such a device could cause a life threatening situation. The FDA might be interested in software that accumulates other data and prompts the user that they are in a life threatening situation and should seek medical care.

 

The FDA doesn't have any authority to enforce medical privacy (HIPAA) and the accumulation and sharing of the information between different electronic systems (MIPSA).

True, which is why iOS' FIPS 140-2 certification has been critical since HIPAA and MIPSA require the same level of government certification of encryption modules. Apple should be compliant with the HIPAA Security Rule along with many other HHS security and encryption rules. As long as all data transmission between iOS/OSX devices and iCloud are encrypted, Apple should be meeting this part of the technical rules. HIPAA goes beyond just technical rules, requiring actual people to implement most of the rules by not divulging HIPAA-protected information verbally or in writing outside HIPAA rules.

post #19 of 21
The value of Health will be related to the health of individuals using it. Never sick and young? Your vaccination records might be all that is needed. Hit the teen years and that accidental encounter with a STD may well be something you want removed.

But as you age, or encounter significant medical conditions, the potential for Health explodes. I'm 70 this month and will need a lot of storage spec, but I've also known a couple young men who were his with testicular cancer right around 20. Anyone can be hit with a nasty at any age and Health is going to be valuable, even if only vaccines are the available data.
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post #20 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Karl Snow View Post

I would suspect most European countries to be much quicker than the US healthcare system to adjust ;-)

Ahhhmmmm...Nope 1smile.gif
From my experience in a few European countries with most from Germany the healthcare systems here are bureaucratic monsters and operating on the opposite end of "speed". Also, I suppose having apple collect, aggregate or in any other way work with health related data will cause a huge number of red flags being raised from data protection sides.
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post #21 of 21

I worry slightly that this could be called HypochondriacKit. Well, at least the French will lap it up.

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